Tell your rural story: Hampton: June 25

RAVEN and the Friends of Hammond River Valley are co-hosting a workshop at the Lighthouse River Centre, 1075 Main St. in Hampton, June 25, 7-9pm. Everyone is welcome!

Do you work on land, water and air protection? Clean energy? Regenerative farming? Sustainable forestry? Are you interested in telling your rural community’s story in a collaborative way?

Learn about storytelling methods, photovoice (photography and storytelling), cellphilming (taking films with cell phones) and participatory video.

Here’s the Facebook event page:https://www.facebook.com/events/447811945788333/

Or contact raven.unb@gmail.com for more information.


Gagetown community talks climate action

RAVEN’s Lauren Korn visited the Gagetown community event on climate action earlier this week. She wrote a story for the NB Media Co-op, which you can read here. Friend of RAVEN Marilyn Merritt-Gray is co-chair of the rural group VOICES – Voices for Sustainable Environments and Communities. Great to see that space was made at the meeting for students in the community to share their views. So inspiring to see the youth taking a strong stand on their future. The article includes information about a proposed Gagetown youth caucus. Thanks Lauren.

RAVEN at ECHO meeting, U de Moncton

RAVEN’s Susan O’Donnell participated at the annual meeting of the ECHO network from May 28 to 30, hosted by the ECHO partners Université de Moncton and the New Brunswick Environmental Network. A highlight was the day trip to rural communities along the Northumberland Straight, including the Kouchibouguac National Park, an information session on “The Irving Influence” by a number of environmental champions at the Irving Eco Centre, a memorable visit with the students and local leaders and community members at the school in Cocagne and an Acadian kitchen party at the nearby Ferme Marcel-Goguen. RAVEN and the ECHO partners are currently planning a visit to Belledune in June, to develop a common project over the summer.

RAVEN visits Upham residents concerned with a proposed gypsum mine

RAVEN team members Tracy Glynn and Daniel Tubb visited Sarah Blenis and Cheryl Johnson in Upham, New Brunswick on May 24. Sarah and Cheryl are at the forefront of organizing residents’ concerns with the proposed Hammond River Holdings gypsum mine.

Sarah’s parents moved to Upham in the 1980s and she has lived in the community all her life. Cheryl is a newcomer from Ontario, who has spent almost two decades in the area. The women share a love of the Hammond River, its mountains, and its forests. The only meat Cheryl and her family eats is the rabbit, deer, and partridge she and her family hunt.

Cheryl opened a binder and revealed an archive of editions of The Brief, the NB Media Co-op’s monthly printed broadsheet publication. The June edition of The Brief will feature a story about how Upham residents are concerned about a gypsum mine owned by J.D. Irving, which threatens local wetlands, the Hammond River, and the quality of life of rural residents.

Both women have studied the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the mine and are concerned that how the project is being granted loopholes by the province. Experts, who have reviewed other EIAs, have expressed their own concerns. The NB Media Co-op broke a story two weeks ago about how Upham residents are under surveillance by the RCMP over their concerns around the proposed mine.

Over a sun room table, the four discussed ways that RAVEN could support storytelling in rural New Brunswick. Watch for details of a storytelling workshop by RAVEN in nearby Hampton in late June.

After the meeting, Cheryl drove Tracy and Daniel to the entrance to the site of the proposed mine, a location which has been clearcut, and which is surrounded by stunning mountains, forests, wetlands and rural dwellers.

Will J.D. Irving get their way once more, or will Upham residents who don’t want the mine be able to stop it? What is clear is that Upham residents have chosen to raise their voices in an effort to protect their community.

RAVEN team meeting May 2019

The RAVEN team met today. The agenda included introducing the (wonderful!) new and returning students for the summer (listed on the people page) and discussing the ongoing engagements with rural communities in New Brunswick. The minutes are here. Following the meeting we welcomed RAVEN friends who arrived to participate in the presentation about the “buzz” phase of resource extraction, by visiting researcher Marieka Sax from the University of Northern British Columbia.

NB Power’s “blood coal”

As a follow-up to his story earlier this month about the strike at the Belledune smelter, RAVEN’s Abram Lutes published this story about the Belledune NB Power plant’s use of coal from Columbia. The coal is mined in ways dangerous for the miners and local communities. This story aims to help us understand how the energy we use here in NB has consequences for other rural people living far away. RAVEN’s Tracy Glynn, a mining activist, is quoted in the story. You can read it here.

Rural innovation: using technology to keep schools in communities

RAVEN is studying the broadband infrastructure in rural New Brunswick. We plan to produce a report describing the limits and opportunities of telecommunication services across the province to support rural communities, including identifying the gaps and producing recommendations to address local needs. In future, moving to a green economy will mean that rural community members will have a choice where and how they can access education and health services. These choices will be essential to move beyond a fossil fuel economy. RAVEN’s Brian Beaton wrote a story to kick off this study in the NB Media Co-op. You can read the story here.

RAVEN visit to Knowlesville

Members of the RAVEN team made a follow-up visit to Knowlesville on May 25-26, a rural community we first visited in March. Similar to RAVEN’s first visit, we enjoyed a potluck supper with community residents and friends, and we discussed plans for the upcoming community festival.

The PRAXIS project festival, June 7-9 in Knowlesville, is a permaculture-inspired art festival with music, workshops and many other events. The RAVEN team will be participating this year with a video crew. We hope to capture the excitement and vision inspired by this unique rural community in New Brunswick. Everyone is welcome to participate – look out for the RAVEN crew!

The festival will take place on the South Knowlesville Community Land Trust. Community members are developing a rural neighborhood “where urban and rural sensibilities can be brought together to create a wellspring of opportunities for the inhabitants and surrounding community.”

Visit from NBEN SEA

Today the NB Environmental Network (NBEN) Sustainability Education Alliance (SEA) coordinator Tzomi Burkhart visited the RAVEN office in the UNB faculty of education. SEA has been a partner in our 2019 cell phone music video contest. Tzomi joined us for a meeting with partners at the Université de Moncton, NBEN and Productions Aulnes. Together we are planning a tour of the Belledune industrial facilities and community meeting at La Barque cooperative in Pointe-Verte in June. Stay tuned for details!

Guest speaker on resource extraction May 27

All friends of the RAVEN project are invited to participate in the guest speaker event at UNB on May 27 – noon in room 221 of the Marshall D’Avery (Education) building on the Fredericton campus. We are planning to have an interesting discussion after Marieka’s talk about the links to resource extraction projects in rural New Brunswick.

“Community Impacts of the Buzz of Natural Resource Extraction: From northern Peru to northern British Columbia.”

Marieka Sax, CIRC Research Lead, UNBC Prince George

In a rural and remote corner of the northern Peruvian Andes, members of an indigenous community are faced with the allure and risk of endorsing a prospective mining operation. While not yet operational, the mine has already produced social impacts with over a decade of exploration, consultation, and protest. Similar processes can be observed in resource-rich areas of Canada, where communities experience the ongoing buzz of resource extraction in between waves of economic boom and bust that reflect volatile commodity prices. This presentation takes a closer look at the Peruvian case, and introduces the buzz concept to think through community impacts of resource extraction over a project’s total lifetime.

Cell phone videos from the Hayes Farm-ers

Earlier this week, RAVEN’s Casey Burkholder and Tracy Glynn worked with farmers and other friends of the Hayes Urban Teaching Farm in Fredericton to create short videos with their cell phones. We’re sharing three of them here, with two more to come. Happy May long weekend everyone!

Where does your food come from?
NB Food Safety Now
The Lack of Recycling in New Brunswick

A message from NB’s future

RAVEN co-investigator Daniel Tubb today published an interesting article in the NB Media Co-op today imagining New Brunswick in 2030 “to think about how we met our climate change obligations. It is fiction, but it need not be.” You can read his article here.

Daniel has promised more of these thought-pieces and we’re looking forward to them.

Any friends of RAVEN who would like to contribute an article along these lines is invited to contact RAVEN: raven.unb@gmail.com

RAVEN at Hayes Urban Teaching Farm

RAVEN’s Casey Burkholder and Tracy Glynn spent the morning today with 10 students learning about regenerative farming with the Hayes Urban Teaching Farm in Fredericton North. Casey led the group in a cellphilming workshop.

Three groups produced short films about food and recycling that you can view online here. Two more videos are in production.

Casey and RAVEN doctoral student Alicia Noriega are working on analyzing the content of the videos. We look forward to the results of their analysis. Thanks to course instructor Corinne Hersey for inviting RAVEN to give a digital storytelling workshop with the students at Hayes Urban Teaching Farm.

Renewable energy bill in the NB legislature

As part of RAVEN’s work to raise awareness and publish stories about environmental issues in our province, we are faithfully covering “opposition day” activities in the legislature and related goings-on by our political leaders. This week on opposition day, MLAs debated Bill 23, an Act to Amend the Electricity Act, that would allow municipalities and First Nations to work with local energy suppliers of green and renewable energy. Bill 23 passed to committee. You can read our story about it here.

Belledune strike over health and safety concerns

RAVEN’s Abram Lutes published a story today with our partner the NB Media Co-op about the strike and lock-out at the Belledune smelter. You can read the story here. Our focus on Belledune is part of an information-gathering exercise about the Belledune area, following our visit to Pointe-Verte last month.

We are considering an in-depth study of the rural communities in the Belledune region and how they are surviving and in some cases thriving in the context of a large-scale extractive and polluting industrial area in their midst. Stay tuned for more Belledune stories this summer, as part of the RAVEN Summer Institute work.

RAVEN attending JEDI plenary on Indigenous economic development in NB

RAVEN is attending the plenary in Fredericton today and tomorrow hosted by our research partner JEDI – Joint Economic Development Initiative. The focus is Indigenous economic development in New Brunswick.

In his video with the project, RAVEN collaborator David Perley said that economic sustainability is one of the foundations of healthy First Nation communities in the province. The JEDI conference includes a session on “The Madawaska story.” This session is particularly interesting for RAVEN because we are currently working on a study of climate change adaptation in a rural region that includes Madawaska First Nation and we engaged with members of that community to pilot the survey for the project.

Why is the RCMP watching a rural action group?

RAVEN’s Tracy Glynn wrote a follow-op article to her piece earlier this week that was also published by the NB Media Co-op. The group, Protect Upham Mountain, is questioning why the RCMP is conducting a surveillance operation on their group. Tracy’s article includes interviews with experts on these kinds of surveillance operations. RAVEN will continue to monitor this story as it has implications for rural champions and activists for the environment across the province. Link to the article here.

Is it a quarry or a mine? Upham residents challenge J.D. Irving project

RAVEN’s Tracy Glynn is working with Upham residents who have created the Facebook group Protect Upham Mountain to share information about a new development. The Upham group members are rural residents who love their way of life. They are trying to find out how the company got the go ahead with their project – a gypsum mine / quarry – seemingly in contravention of provincial government regulations. You can read the story here.

Transitioning to a low-carbon economy in New Brunswick

Chris Rouse presented his business case for a transition to a low-carbon economy in Fredericton recently. His presentation focused on investment into renewables, efficiency, and fuel-switching, with a goal of transitioning 95% of the province’s total energy needs to renewables by 2040.

RAVEN Summer Institute team member Lauren Korn wrote the story for the NB Media Co-op. You can access it here.

Youth speakers increasing at Fredericton climate strike

We partnered with the Conservation Council of New Brunswick and the NB Media Co-op to write a story about the student climate strike outside the Legislature building on May 10. RAVEN team members have been present at all three climate strikes to date and we will continue to show our support for the youth going forward. Their actions and words inspire us!

RAVEN at Qualitatives 2019 conference

Mary Aspinall, who worked as a graduate student research assistant with RAVEN in the fall 2018 term, presented at the Qualitatives 2019 conference in Fredericton today. Mary’s presentation, Looking for the Invisible: Analyzing Latent Content in the News Media, is based on a study conducted with a RAVEN team to analyze Brunswick News editorials focused on rural issues.

The Qualitatives presentation focused on an interesting methodological question: how do you analyze content that does not exist? We found in our study that the editorials had no mentions of environmental degradation and downsides of resource extraction, and only a cursory, negative mention of Indigenous communities, which we would have expected to find. The paper on which the study is based is currently in peer-review.

Video: The People vs The Irving Empire

The People’s Mayday rally in Saint John sparked the creation of a 5-minute video, The People vs the Irving Dynasty, about their action in the port city last week. The video was produced by Max Media, edited by Jon Pederson, and supported by the NB Media Co-op and RAVEN.

Read the article and link to the video on the NB Media Co-op page.

Climate emergency vs profits for industry

The provincial government has the power and the responsibility to act on the climate crisis. The IPCC and the UN are urging the world’s government to take immediate action. RAVEN’s Susan O’Donnell wrote a story about the situation in the Legislative Assembly in New Brunswick. It’s not a good story. Our premier is not sure how much of climate change is based on human activity and believes that industry should be leading the innovations required for a cleaner environment. Read the story here.

Celebrating Indigenous teachings at UNB

David Perley, a collaborator on the RAVEN project, has been moving the University of New Brunswick toward a more respectful approach to Indigenous education in the province. Today RAVEN and our partner, the NB Media Co-op, published an article about how David and his wife, UNB Elder-in residence Imelda Perley, have made a difference during their time at the university. David retires in June and Imelda retired in April.

Read the article by RAVEN’s Susan O’Donnell and Brian Beaton, Celebrating Indigenous teachings at UNB with David and Imelda Perley. David also collaborated with RAVEN’s Tracy Glynn, Shanthi Bell, Rodrigo Hermelo and the UNB Media Lab to create two new videos for the project, also available on the NB Media Co-op site:

David Perley: Establishing a healthy community in rural New Brunswick.

David Perley: A vision for Indigenous university education

RAVEN 2019 Summer Institute

May 6 is the start of the 2019 RAVEN Summer Institute (SI) that will be held in the Education building at the University of New Brunswick in Fredericton and branching out to rural areas across the province. The purpose is to explore how we can use alternative media to engage hearts and minds and support action on environmental issues in rural New Brunswick.

For the first six weeks, we will be focusing on written news, including producing written news stories and investigative reports about rural New Brunswick, with RAVEN partner the NB Media Co-op. Stay tuned for updates and visit our People page to see who’s involved from the RAVEN team. We also have invited guests who are friends of the RAVEN project.